2011 Chevy Cruze courtesy of Ghent Chevrolet
By Stu Wright
I picked up the new 2011 Chevy Cruze at Ghent Motors here in Greeley and immediately headed east on Highway 34. My first impression (of the car) was one of a solid feel, especially for a compact made in Lordsville, Ohio. Quiet, too, with tire noise about all that can be heard at 70 mph. Even though I am an American car fan, I have been somewhat disappointed by earlier compacts from GM, including the 2010 Chevy Cobalt. The only time the Cobalts excite me is when powered with an 8,000 horsepower nitro-burning V-8 at Bandimere Speedway in Morrison.
But this is the new Cruze, the much ballyhoo’d knockoff of the Opel Astra that has been offered in Europe for the past few years. It is designed to compete head-on with the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, as well as models from Ford, Kia, Mazda, and Volkswagon. And it may be able to do just that, with the aforementioned quiet ride and lots of pep. That pep comes from the 1.4 litre four cylinder engine that is standard on this top-line LTZ. In a bit of an oddity, the standard motor on the base LS is a 1.8 litre. But the LTZ is turbocharged and is relatively fast. There is a bit of a lag with that turbo, but it is nonetheless fun to drive and can reach 60 mph in under nine seconds. Handling is pretty nice, as well, with highway tracking acceptable and cornering good with little roll. Shifting concerns are under control with a six speed 6T40 GM hydra-matic transmission.
Inside is room for four adults, although it seems a little skinny. Officially dubbed a five passenger car, I think the fifth should be an elf. It’s a small car, I guess, and you should expect such things as the right leg leaning against the console. In that console is a real hand brake and I don’t like using my toes to set such an device. Fit and finish is nice and the ten air bags maximize safety of occupants. The trunk is an ample 15 cubic feet.
I drove the car several miles toward Ft. Morgan and turned around about eighteen miles outside of town. I then returned as far as Rush Peterbilt between Kersey and Greeley and pulled into their new truck lot. I went inside to see some friends and returned to the lot to take photographs. I like the looks of the Cruze, with it’s chiseled shoulders and full wheel wells. Full of 235//45R-18 Goodyears and ten spoke cast aluminum rims. The front end is much easier to look at than is the fanny, with it’s twin-port grill that Chevy likes to install on Malibu’s, Impala’s, etc. The roofline give the car a coupe-like appearance, even though it is a four-door sedan. This model featured the crystal red metallic tintcoat paint at an extra charge of $325.00. Total window sticker was $24,415.00, and that included a power sunroof and upgraded Pioneer stereo system. And as mentioned earlier, it was the top-of-the-line LTZ. For a car in the size classification, that is quite a bit of money, but it is loaded with equipment. And it is a far better small car than Chevolet has ever offered. It took more than an all-American effort to bring out this model, but I guess that is a sign of the times.
I returned the Cruze back at Ghent Motors and had to admit I grew fond of the little guy, and wouldn’t mind being an owner.
2011 Chevy Cruze LTZ, five-passenger, front-wheel drive, four-door sedan
1.4 litre, turbocharged and intercooled inline four – 138 bhp @ 4900 rpm
6-speed HydraMatic transmission with manumatic shifting
Curb weight – 3,206#; 106” WB; 71” width; 181” length
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